And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
After Paul’s shipwreck, where he and his fellow prisoners were saved on the island of Melita, he stood by the fire warming himself from the frigid waters. As he stood by the fire, a venomous beast came out of the fire and bit him. The barbarian people made a classic bad judgment that many make: they judged him based on the snake biting him instead of knowing the whole story.
Many times we make judgments about people and situations they are in without knowing the whole story, only to find out that our judgment was wrong. Sadly, more believers act like barbarians in the judgment of people than they do in acting like God. I find four ways people commonly make bad judgments that can destroy friendships and cause people to make bad decisions.
First, making decisions or opinions about people based on perception will always cause you to be wrong. Perception is only one small microcosm of a situation. Many have judged a situation or a person and not known the whole story only to realize they got it wrong. What is even worse is when people dig in on their decision after knowing they are wrong because they don't want to admit that they are wrong. The worst thing you can do is to let your pride get in the way of saying you are wrong after you make a bad decision based on perception. You must always determine that you will not let perception be the basis of your decisions or judgments of others if you don't want to be wrong and have to clean up the mess your perception made.
Second, making decisions or opinions about people based on feelings is more often wrong than right. Just because you feel someone is wrong does not make them wrong. Just because you feel something is right does not make something right. We are not to make decisions based on what we feel is right but on what God’s Word and His principles say are right and wrong. Feelings are based on our emotions and perception and not on facts. NEVER let feelings be the basis by which you make decisions and opinions about others.
Third, making decisions or opinions about people based on hearsay almost always leads to bad decisions. Hearsay is not fact. Just because someone says they heard something is true does not make it true. Many people have been slandered because of people making decisions about them based on hearsay. Would you want people to make a decision about you based on hearsay? Many good people have had to deal with the evil of hearsay, which is nothing more than gossip. To destroy another person based on hearsay makes you no better than Satan’s mouthpiece that mentioned the hearsay. Never venture into hearsay. Shut it down immediately, and people will learn not to go to you with their gossip.
Fourth, making decisions or opinions about people based on one side of the story always leads to wrong decisions. Whether it be a decision or a judgment about a person, never make a decision until you hear both sides of the story. Be a person who never makes a judgment until you hear both sides of every situation.